Paternalism does not sit well with Bills of Rights.
Nairobi's City Fathers, from the city's founding, have treated the "native" population with a paternalism that has invited rights' violating behaviour of such cruelty that it almost always comes as shock when one sees it in action. The City Fathers, and the central government that backs their anti-people plays, have always segregated the city - the wealthier suburbs and the Eastlands wasteland of untidiness in need of a firm guiding fatherly hand by Those Who Know Better.
This attitude, unsurprisingly, pervades city planning. It is the guiding light of the newly-minted roadsweeping company otherwise known as Nairobi Metropolitan Services, which has theoretically taken on the onerous task of physical planning, public health, public sanitation and public transport. Its 100-day anniversary was marked by the presidential flagging off of water bowsers and off-road ambulances. The president has "inspected" cabro works in the Nairobi Central Business District, giving the general in command top marks for his efforts. The general has attracted a positive press from the usual boosters - professional types that do not want to encounter mikokoteni, nduthists, matatus or hawkers in the streets of their beloved CBD. In their minds, it is a matter of time before martial discipline sorts out the city's issues and it can take its rightful place among the great cities of the world: London, New York, Paris, Munich, Milan and Singapore.
General Badi & Co., in keeping with the expectations of their boosters, have announced that, just like Rwanda's Kigali, one day in each month will be dedicated to mandatory roadsweeping by those in the city. General Badi announced, portentously, that "this will come into law; it will be a must" to the ponderous praise of those who want government to be their daddy. A few things, though, escape their attention. Or, as I read it, they have completely ignored what is plain to see.
First, regardless of the legitimacy of the deed of transfer, General Badi was not elected to his position; he was appointed to it. He is accountable to his appointing authority. If he messes up, he can't be removed by the voters of the city. It is up to his appointing authority to decide whether or not he is doing a bang up job. So far, his appointing authority is happy with cabro works and branded water bowsers.
Second, a corollary to the first point. He is only accountable to his appointing authority for how he spends taxpayers' money. He need not present a budget for his operations to anyone other than his appointing authority. He is not subject to legislative oversight by the County Assembly. He does not have to lay his budget or his plans before the County Assembly. If he is summoned to attend before the relevant county assembly committees responsible for oversight of the areas under his charge, he can flip the committees the bird and suffer no adverse consequences. He can spend the billions under his charge without further reference to the county government.
Third, the opacity of the General's operations is a recipe for great corruption and if one argues that the Kenya Defence Forces is as white as the driven snow when it comes to graft, one has simply not been paying attention. The Air Force itself, where the general hails from, has yet to satisfactorily explain its dodgy purchase of jet fighters from Jordan that have never seen the great blue yonder. And now the man and his cohort are entering into public works contracts under unknown terms for unknown sums. If a billion or two evaporate into the ether, no one would know.
Fourth, the general is not trained to manage municipalities. Planning air war campaigns and implementing plans to revivify public health services are alike as chalk and cheese. The tendrils of industrial action emanating from the county's health workers will soon enough choke his grand plans for "21 new hospitals" simply because he does not seem to know what he wants to do to improve public health services.
The face of paternalism in Kenya has always been that of autocracy. Kenyans who don't see the light are to be beaten into submission. In Nairobi, the beating has always been meted out by the City Askaris. In order for General Badi to ensure that the residents of this city "turn out in large numbers" to sweep the roads, he will either have to persuade them that it is a good thing or he will have to force them to comply with his "it will be a must" way of thinking. If the latter, he will need to turn out the City Askaris, rungus and shields, to crack heads. Either way, that bit of the Bill of Rights about slavery, servitude and forced labour, is about to meet the General's new cohort. I will leave the irony of an Air Force general commanding City Askaris for others to muse about.